For many people, the decision to end a marriage is not arrived at lightly and you may have already experienced significant stress. The fact that divorce is never easy is a well-known fact. But just how difficult a divorce is depends on many different factors. Your divorce may be as simple as filling out the required divorce papers for Washington online and presenting them to your county clerk.
If you are in a position where you can seek an uncontested divorce – where you and your spouse agree about the need to get a divorce, how you will divide up your property and how you will take care of your children (if you have any) – then you can expect a fairly straightforward divorce process. In this case, you may be able to complete your divorce without a lawyer.
However, if you’re not in a situation where an uncontested divorce is an option, it is important to understand how the Washington courts handle such situations. The court will only grant a divorce when a decision is reached on all matters of the relationships – property division, child custody, child support. Either you and your spouse will need to decide, or the judge will make the decision for you. if you’re in this situation, one option is to seek divorce mediation in Washington, where you and your spouse meet with a professional mediator to work out a solution. Mediation can be very productive, and considerably cheaper than hiring a lawyer and going through a legal battle. If mediation does not work, you and your spouse will each need to present your argument to the court. At this point hiring a divorce attorney is recommended.
The following information will help you understand the basics of the divorce process in Washington, and how you can move forward with an uncontested divorce.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), in 2011, the divorce rate in the state of Washington in 2011 was 4.1 out of every 1,000 residents. The divorce rate in Washington is not as low as some other states, but it is lower than quite a few states. Washington is a no-fault divorce state, meaning that you only need to state that the marriage is “irretrievably broken” for the state to grant you a divorce. Washington does not permit you to place blame for the ending of the marriage, and it only requires that one spouse believe that the marriage needs to end for a divorce to be granted.
Unlike many other states, Washington does not have a specific time frame for residency before you can file for a divorce. As long as you or your spouse are a resident currently, you can file. Washington considers you a resident if you maintain a permanent home in the state
Washington refers to divorce as a dissolution of marriage. As the person filing for divorce, you are referred to as the “petitioner”. Your spouse, who you are serving the divorce papers to, is the “respondent”.
There are a number of divorce papers you are required by Washington to complete; some of which will vary based on your specific circumstances. The main form for filing for divorce in Washington is the “Petition for Dissolution of Marriage”. You will also need to fill out a “Summons”, “Confidential Information Form”, and “Vital Statistics Form”. You can find all of the divorce forms on the Washington Courts web page.
Looking at the possible divorce forms on the website, you will discover that there are many different possible forms and a number of terms you are probably not familiar with. Many people find the possibilities a little overwhelming, which is understandable. Failure to fill out the divorce papers correctly, submitting an incorrect form or failing to submit a required form can all have a negative impact on your divorce. Making a mistake could lead to significant delays or added costs to your divorce.
CompleteCase.com prepares your divorce papers online and offers a way for you to find the exact forms for your specific needs. CompleteCase.com aslo helps Washington couples complete the required papers accurately so that you can move your divorce forward quickly.
Once you have completed your Washington divorce papers, you will need to print and file them with your local county clerk. You have the option of filing in your county or the county where your spouse lives. You can also file in Lincoln County, which allows non-residents to submit divorce documents. You and your spouse will both need to consent to file in Lincoln County.
It is a good idea to call ahead to the county clerk to verify that you are bringing everything you need to file, and that you have an accepted form of payment for the state filing fee. You should make at least two additional copies of the divorce papers, one for your records and one to serve to your spouse.
The final step in the filing process is to serve your spouse the divorce papers. If your spouse and you are on good terms, you can avoid the serving process by completing a “Joinder to the Petition”. If you need to serve your spouse, you can hire a deputy sheriff to deliver the papers, or you can hire a private process server. If you are unable to locate your spouse, you can publish a notice of the divorce in the local paper. However, this is an expensive option, making it worthwhile to locate your spouse if at all possible.
As long as you and your spouse remain in agreement about the divorce, you can expect the court to schedule a final hearing after 90 days. At the hearing the judge will complete the divorce.